Sunday, November 22, 2015

7 titles of King Elessar (Aragorn): Meditation on Christ the King


During the crowning of Aragorn as King, the last Steward of Gondor, Faramir, declared the titles of Aragorn before the people of Gondor:
Men of Gondor, hear now the Steward of this Realm! Behold! one has come to claim the kingship again at last.  Here is Aragorn son of Arathorn, chieftain of the Dunedain of Arnor, Captain of the Hosts of the West, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring healing, the Elfstone, Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur's son, Elendil's son of Numenor. Shall he be king and enter into the City and dwell there? (The Steward and the King, Lord of the Rings, p. 967)
Let us now meditate on these titles of Aragorn and relate them with that of Christ.

1. Aragorn son of Arathorn,... Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur's son, Elendil's son of Numenor

Just as the Aragorn traces his line to Elendil, the first King of Gondor who escaped to Middle Earth together with the Faithful after the downfall of Numenor, Jesus also traces his line to King David through Joseph, the husband of Mary:
Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations.*(Mt 1:17)
But Jesus is greater than King David because even David calls Christ the Messiah as Lord:
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus questioned them,* 42* saying, “What is your opinion about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They replied, “David’s.” 43He said to them, “How, then, does David, inspired by the Spirit, call him ‘lord,’ saying: 44n ‘The Lord said to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet”’? 45* If David calls him ‘lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46o No one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.  (Mt 22:41-46)
Indeed, Christ is greater than King David, because Christ is the only begotten Son of God. As God the Father Himself testified during Jesus' Transfiguration:

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  (Mt 17:5)

 2. Chieftain of the Dunedain of Arnor

Jesus is the head of the Apostles who shall judge the 12 tribes of the New Israel, the Church:
Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.   (Mt 19:28)
The judges, such as Samuel, are the leaders of Israel before the establishment of kingship with Saul. The Judges interpret the law of the Lord in case of lawsuits. God only gave Israel a king because they rejected Him as their king:
Samuel was displeased when they said, “Give us a king to rule us.” But he prayed to the LORD. 7The LORD said: Listen to whatever the people say. You are not the one they are rejecting. They are rejecting me as their king.d 8They are acting toward you just as they have acted from the day I brought them up from Egypt to this very day, deserting me to serve other gods. Now listen to them; but at the same time, give them a solemn warning and inform them of the rights of the king who will rule them. (1 Sam 8:6-8)
So in the New Covenant, Jesus combined two forms of government with himself as the King and the Apostles as Judges. That is why, just as a person cannot be a prince in Gondor unless he be of the royal lineage (Dunedain), in the same way, no one can be a bishop unless he can trace his consecration to an unbroken apostolic succession from one of the twelve apostles.

3. Captain of the Hosts of the West

Aragorn is the Captain of the Hosts of the West. He was there during the Siege of Gondor and in the Battle before the Black Gates of Mordor:

And behold! upon the foremost ship a great standard broke, and the wind displayed it as she turned towards the Harlond. There flowered a White Tree, and that was for Gondor; but Seven Stars were about it, and a high crown above it, the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond count...Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elsessar, Isildur's heir, out of the Paths of the Dead, borne uipon a wind from the Sea to the kingdom of Gondor. (The Battle of Pelennor Fields, Lord of the Rings, p. 847)

All about the hills the hosts of Mordor raged.  The Captains of the West were foundering in a gathering sea. The sun gleamed red, and under the wings of the Nazgul the shadows of death fell dark upon the earth. Aragorn stood beneath his banner, silent and stern, as one lost in thought of things long past or far away; but his eyes gleamed like stars that shine the brighter as the night deepens. Upon the hill-top stood Gandalf, and he was white and cold and no shadow fell on him. The onslaught of Mordor broke like a wave on the beleaguered hills, voices roaring like a tide amid the wreck and crash of arms. (The Field of Cormallen, Lord of the Rings, p. 949)

Jesus, on the other hand, is the Captain of the Hosts (Army) of Angels:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32g and all the nations* will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.   (Mt 25:31-32)
Indeed, Jesus reminded Peter of this truth during their arrest at the Garden of Gethsemane:
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels? 54But then how would the scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?” (Mt 26:52-54)
4. Wielder of the Sword Reforged

The Sword Reforged is Anduril, the Flame of the West which was reforged from the shards of Narsil which was broken by Sauron, yet whose hilt blade Isildur used to cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand. Anduril is terribly sharp (unlike in the movies), as we can see from the battle at Moria at and Helm's Deep:
But even as the orc flung down the truncheon and swept out his scimitar, Anduril came down upon his helm.  There was a flash like flame and the helm burst asunder. The orc fell witih cloven head. His followers fled howling, as Boromir and Aragorn sprang at them. (The Bridge of Khazad-Dum, Lord of the Rings, p. 325)
Dismayed the rammers let fall the trees and turned to fight; but the wall of their shields was broken as by a lightning-stroke, and they were swept away, hewn down, or cast over the Rock into the stony stream below. The orc-archers shot wildly and then fled. (Helm's Deep, Lord of the Rings, p. 534)
In the New Testament, Jesus did not wear swords, but He told Peter and the apostles to take swords with them before their arrest at the Garden of Gethsemane:
He said to them, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing,” they replied. 36w He said to them,* “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. 37For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, ‘He was counted among the wicked’; and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.”x 38Then they said, “Lord, look, there are two swords here.” But he replied, “It is enough!” (Lk 22:35-38
The sword of Christ is the sword of division:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. 35For I have come to set
a man ‘against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’ (Mt 10:34-36)

The sword of Christ is his word, as we see from the Book of Revelation:
The hair of his head was as white as white wool or as snow,* and his eyes were like a fiery flame. 15His feet were like polished brass refined in a furnace,* and his voice was like the sound of rushing water. 16In his right hand he held seven stars.* A sharp two-edged sword came out of his mouth, and his face shone like the sun at its brightest. (Rv 1:14-16)
And the word of Christ is sharper than a two-edged sword. As said Paul said:
 Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.f 13 (Heb 4:12)

5. Victorious in Battle

Christ's Resurrection is his victory over Death. As St. Paul said:
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits* of those who have fallen asleep. 21* For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. 22For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,i 23but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;j 24then comes the end,* when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.k 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.l 26* The last enemym to be destroyed is death...“Death is swallowed up in victory. 55Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”d (1 Cor 15:20-55) 
Aragorn was also victorious in battle, as he proved during the siege of Gondor and the Black Gates. But the greatest victor of Aragorn is his willing acceptance of death at the time of his choosing in order to heal the craving for eternal life of Numenorian kings, despite the promise of God (Eru) of a life beyond death, beyond the circles of the world. As we read in the dialogue of Aragorn and Arwen:

"Nay, dear lord," she said, "that choice is long over. There is now no ship that would bear me hence, and I must indeed abide the Doom of men, whether I will or I nill: the loss and the silence. But I say to you, King of the Numenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of th eOne to Men, it is bitter to receive."
"But let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!"

'"Estel, Estel!" she cried, and with that even as he took her hand and kissed it, he fell into sleep. Then a great beauty was revealed in him, so that all who after came there looked on him in wonder; for they saw that the grace of his youth, and the valour of his manhood, and the wisdom and majesty of his age were blended together. And long there he lay, an image of the splendour of the Kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world. (Appendix A, Lord of the Rings, p. 1063)

6.  Whose Hands Bring Healing

The mark of a true King of Gondor is that his hands bring healing:
Then an old wife, Ioreth, the eldest of the women who served in that house, looking on the fair face of Faramir, wept, for all the people loved him. And she said: 'Alas! if he should die. Would that there were kings in Gondor, as there were once upon a time, they say! For it is said in old lore: The hands of a king are the hands of a healer. And so the rightful king could ever be known.' (The Houses of Healing, Lord of the Rings, p. 860)
Aragorn healed not only Faramir, Merry, and Eowyn, but also many soldiers who fell wounded during the siege of Gondor, even before he claimed the kingship of the City:
At the doors of the Houses many were already gathered to see Aragorn, and they followed after him; and when at last he had supped, men came and prayed that he would heal their kinsmen or their friends whose lives were in peril thorugh hurt or wound, or who lay under the Black Shadow. And aragorn arose and went out, and he sent for the sons of Elrond, and together they laboured far into the night. And word went through the City: 'The King is come again indeed.' and they named him Elfstone, because of the green stone that he wore, and so the name which it was foretold at his birth that he should bear was chosen for him by his own people. (The Houses of Healing, Lord of the Rings, p. 871)
This scene reminds us of the healing Jesus wrought in Gennesaret:
After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35When the men of that place recognized him, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought to him all those who were sick 36m and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed. (Mt 14:34-36)
As Christ said in the synagogue:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.m He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” 20Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. 21He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”* 22 (Lk 4:18-21)
These healing are the signs that accompany Christ's proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Christ said:
Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he said in reply, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed,i 21* and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’j For behold, the kingdom of God is among you.”  (Lk 17:21)
For where the King is, there is the kingdom.


7. Elessar, the Elfstone

Elessar is another word for the Elfstone. The stone was found by Aragorn during their flight to the Ford as they were pursued by the Nazgul:
He held out his hand, and showed a single pale-green jewel. 'I found it in the mud in the middle of the Bridge,' he said. 'It is a beryl, an elf-stone. Whether it was set there, or let fall by chance, I cannot say; but it brings hope to me. I will take it as a sign that we may pass the Bridge; but beyond that I dare not keep to the Road, without some clear token. (Flight to the Ford, Lord of the Rings, p. 201)
 These words of Aragorn reminds us of Christ as the Cornerstone:
He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9What [then] will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others. 10Have you not read this scripture passage:c‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. (Mk 12:6-10)
Just as Aragorn found the Elfstone buried under the earth, so was Christ found buried under the earth until his glorious Resurrection. As St. Paul said:
You fool! What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies.... So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. 43It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.v 44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one. 45So, too, it is written, “The first man, Adam,* became a living being,” the last Adam a life-giving spirit.w (1 Cor 15:36-45)

Conclusions

We can point to seven similarities between King Elessar and Christ the King:
  1. Aragorn traces his lineage from Elendil, the first King of Gondor after the downfall of Numenor; Christ traces his lineage to King David through Joseph, husband of Mary.
  2. Aragorn is the Chieftain of the Dunedain, the last remnants of the royal line of Gondor; Christ the Head of the Apostles, the spiritual ancestors of the bishops through apostolic succession. 
  3. Aragorn is the Captain of the Hosts of the West; Jesus is the Captain of the Angelic Hosts.
  4. Aragorn is the Wielder of Narsil, the Sword Reforged, the Flame of the West; Jesus wields his word as his sword--a sword of division which can penetrate the soul and spirit.
  5. Aragorn was victorious over the armies of the Dark Lord; Jesus was victorious over Death.
  6. Aragorn's hands are the hands of a king and the hands of a healer; Jesus also manifest his kingship by healing people of their sickness.
  7. Aragorn was named as Elessar, the Elfstone; Jesus is the stone that the builders rejected, the Cornerstone.
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